Foundation of the Irish State


DATE: 2 – 3 December 2022

VENUE: University College Dublin & Livestream

Recordings of both days of the conference are available here. To download the conference programme, please click on one of the links below:



On Friday 2 and Saturday 3 December 2022 UCD hosted a national conference as part of the Decade of Centenaries Programme 2012-2023, marking one hundred years since the foundation of the Irish State.

This major two-day conference sought to explore the process of state formation amid an ongoing civil war and uncertainty over the future of the border with Northern Ireland, the evolution of the institutions of the state since 1922, and the challenges that state, society, and citizenry faced a century ago. The aim of this conference was to inform and stimulate wider public discourse on this key event in the history of Irish independence and statehood.

A simultaneous English-Irish and Irish-English translation was available for the duration of the conference, for both in-person and online attendees and there was sign language interpretation throughout.

The conference was funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media through the Decade of Centenaries Programme and by UCD.

Running Order

Day 1

Friday 2 December 2022: Venue: UCD O’Reilly Hall 

08:45-09:15: Conference registration

09:20-09:30: Conference welcome and introduction

UCD Acting President Professor Mark Rogers

09:30-10:00: Keynote address: The Taoiseach Micheál Martin

10:00-10:15: Reflecting on UCD’s Decade of Centenaries

UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact Professor Orla Feely; Chair of the UCD Decade of Centenaries Committee

Break: 10:15-10:45


Panel 1: Sovereignty, Citizens and the State

Paper 1: Dr Thomas Mohr (UCD Sutherland School of Law), ‘The 1922 Constitution and the Foundation of the Irish State’

Paper 2: Professor Linda Connolly (School of Sociology, Maynooth University), ‘“Any man who takes revenge on a sister is not much”: assessing the impact of the Irish civil war on women’

Paper 3: Professor Eugenio Biagini (University of Cambridge, History), ‘National sovereignty and minority experiences in independent Ireland’

Chair: Professor Robert Gerwarth (UCD School of History)

Lunch break: 12:00-13:00


Panel 2: Founding the State: External Dimensions

Paper 1: Professor Margaret O’Callaghan (School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Queen’s University Belfast), ‘James Craig and the consolidation of Northern Ireland in 1922’

Paper 2: Ambassador Gerard Keown (Permanent Representative of Ireland to the OECD and UNESCO), ‘The harp in the orchestra of nations: early steps on the world stage’

Paper 3: Ambassador Raili Lahnalampi (Ambassador of Finland to Ireland), ‘Finland’s history: reflections on nationhood, foreign and security policy, and similarities and differences with Ireland’

Chair: Professor Emeritus John Coakley (UCD Geary Institute of Public Policy)

Break: 14:15-14:30


Panel 3: Institutions of the State

Paper 1: Adjunct Professor John FitzGerald (Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin, in collaboration with Dr Seán Kenny, University College Cork), ‘Managing a new economy: Ireland 1922-1945’ 

Paper 2: Dr Aodh Quinlivan (Department of Government and Politics, University College Cork), ‘Virtuous revolutionaries and the quest to depoliticise local government’

Paper 3: Dr Martin Maguire (UCD Geary Institute of Public Policy), ‘State-building and the civil service, 1922: retreat from revolution.’

Chair: Professor Niamh Hardiman (UCD School of Politics and International Relations)

Break: 15:45-16:00


Panel 4: Law, Order, and Legality – Courts and Emergency Powers

Paper 1: Hon Mr. Justice Gerard Hogan (Supreme Court), ‘The legality of the Civil War and its implications for the Constitutions of 1922 and 1937’

Paper 2: Dr Bláthna Ruane S.C., ‘Creating the new courts system: aspirations, constraints and pragmatism’

Chair: Professor Imelda Maher (UCD Sutherland School of Law)

17:00 -17:10: Day 1 closing remarks: Dr Conor Mulvagh (UCD School of History)


Day 2

Saturday, 3 December 2022. Venue: FitzGerald Debating Chamber, UCD Student Centre

09:00-09:30: Conference registration

09:30-09:40: Day 2 opening remarks: Dr Maurice Manning, Chancellor of the National University of Ireland; Chair of the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations


Panel 1: ‘A stake in the state’: Welfare, Health and Gender

Paper 1: Professor Emeritus Mary E. Daly (UCD School of History), ‘No promised land’: health and welfare in the early years of the Irish Free State’

Paper 2: Dr Mary McAuliffe (Director of Gender Studies, UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice), ‘Not in the mainstream; the political afterlives of revolutionary women’

Paper 3: Dr Joseph Brady (UCD School of Geography), ‘A new beginning? Dealing with Dublin’s housing crisis in the 1920s’

Chair: Dr Conor Mulvagh (UCD School of History)

Break: 11:00-11:15


Painéal 2/ Panel 2: An Ghaeilge: Struchtúir oifigiúla agus pobail i mbunú Stát na hÉireann / The Irish language: Official and community structures in the foundation of the Irish State

Cuirfear cainteanna agus plé an phainéil seo i láthair trí mheán na Gaeilge. Cuirfear aistriúchán comhuaineach ar fáil.

All papers in this panel will be presented in Irish. A simultaneous English language translation will be available.

Le tacaíocht ó Fhoras na Gaeilge/With support from Foras na Gaeilge

Páipéar 1: An tOllamh Taca Cathal Goan (UCD Scoil na Gaeilge, an Léinn Cheiltigh agus an Bhéaloidis), ‘Féiniúlacht, fís agus freagracht’

Paper 1: Adjunct Professor Cathal Goan (UCD School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore), ‘Identity, vision and responsibility’

Páipéar 2: An Dr Ríona Nic Congáil (UCD Scoil na Gaeilge, an Léinn Cheiltigh agus an Bhéaloidis), ‘“Strengthening the National Fibre”: An Ghaeilge agus córas oideachais an tSaorstáit’

Paper 2: Dr Ríona Nic Congáil (UCD School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore), ‘“Strengthening the National Fibre”: Irish and the Free State education system’

Páipéar 3: An Dr Pádraig Breandán Ó Laighin (UCD Scoil na Socheolaíochta), ‘Pobal na Gaeilge tráth bunaithe an Stáit’

Paper 3: Dr Pádraig Breandán Ó Laighin (UCD School of Sociology), ‘The Irish-language community at the time of the establishment of the State’

Cathaoirleach: An tOllamh Sinsearach agus Cathaoir na Nua-Ghaeilge Regina Uí Chollatáin, Príomhoifigeach agus Déan, UCD Coláiste na nEalaíon agus na nDaonnachtaí

Chair: Senior Professor and Chair of Modern Irish and Literature Regina Uí Chollatáin, Principal and Dean, UCD College of Arts and Humanities

Lunch break: 12:30-13:30


Panel 3: ‘Agents of stability’: Social Structures in Independent Ireland

Paper 1: Dr Daithí Ó Corráin (School of History and Geography, Dublin City University), ‘An intertwining of faith, fatherland and self-interest: church-state relations at the birth of the Irish Free State’

Paper 2: Professor Lindsey Earner-Byrne (School of History, University College Cork), ‘Family and vulnerability in the Irish Free State’

Paper 3: Professor Paul Rouse (UCD School of History), ‘Land and radicalism’

Chair: Daniel McConnell (Political Editor, Irish Examiner)

Break: 14:45-15:00


Roundtable discussion: Centennial Perspectives – Reflecting on a century of statehood

Chair: Dr David McCullagh (RTÉ)

Professor Marie Coleman (Professor of Twentieth Century Irish History, QUB) 

Professor Diarmaid Ferriter (Chair of Modern Irish History, UCD School of History)

Professor Emeritus Brigid Laffan (European University Institute)

16:00-16:15: Closing remarks: Dr Conor Mulvagh (UCD School of History)


Getting to UCD
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Designs for the Great Seal of the Irish Free State', created in pen and ink by Archibald McGoogan in 1923 (in the Hugh Kennedy papers)